Execs share start-up skills

Triangle Business Journal

- June 23, 2000 by Lee Weisbecker

RALEIGH ¬ A group of area Indian-American business leaders are busy forging another link to plug the Triangle's growing high-tech economy into the wider world.

Tapping Relativity Technologies' founder Vivek Wadhwa as its president, the group has set up the Carolinas chapter of The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TiE), a national organization that mentors young entrepreneurs through the minefields of creating start-ups. "That's the whole idea," says Swadesh Chatterjee, president of Fuquay Varina-based Brandt Instruments. "We want to advise on starting companies, to let people know what they should and should not do."

Nationally, TiE is a growing organization with chapters springing up in New York, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta and other major cities. Behind the organization is an attempt to link members of the large and growing Indian American community with ties to the high-tech economy.

Last year alone, Chatterjee says, Indian Americans set up more than 770 high-tech companies in California's Silicon Valley. TiE wants to organize the managerial know-how in other parts of the country to accelerate the trend. Wadhwa says the TiE chapter has the potential of bringing hundreds of jobs and several `new economy' companies to the Triangle. "What we're trying to do here is piggyback the success of TiE West Coast," Wadhwa says. "Collectively, TiE is perhaps the single-most influential group in recent years when it comes to capital formation and job creation. We want the Carolinas to be a part of that excitement."

Besides Wadhwa and Chatterjee, other core founding members of TiE of the Carolinas are: Jay Desai, president & CEO of the Institute of Global Competitiveness, Salim Bhatia, CEO of Mind-Lever.com; Clarence J. Chandran, COO of Nortel Networks; Sandeep Chennakeshu, vice president of Ericsson and Manoj George of Red Hat.

In addition to mentoring young entrepreneurs, TiE charter members also have the option of investing in the startups being given a leg up. The organization as a whole, however, doesn't take equity stakes in new companies. "In the Triangle there are a sizable number of people from Southeast Asia who've played a major role in developing the tech industry here," says Bhatia, one of the Carolinas TiE charter members. "An organization like TiE offers them the support and opportunity to realize what this country is well known for ¬ entrepreneurship, building something, being successful."

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